Reince Priebus is struggling to maintain control of a White House that seems almost designed to be chaotic, according to reports, but his job as chief of staff seems safe — for now.
President Donald Trump prefers to set up decentralized leadership structures where authority is divided up among aides with sometimes contrasting views, which has left Priebus jockeying for position with chief strategist Stephen Bannon, senior adviser Jared Kushner and counselor Kellyanne Conway, reported Politico.
Priebus is tasked with keeping the easily distracted president in line, so he tries to stay by Trump’s side throughout the day, the website reported.
“Trump is nothing like Reince has ever dealt with,” said one person who knows Priebus well. “Would you want the job of trying to control him and getting him to focus?”
Some White House aides told Politico they’ve seen Priebus rush to insert him into conversations between Trump and Bannon or Conway, and those sources said the chief of staff seems determined to prove his influence.
“He’s not been set up to be a very strong chief of staff,” said one staffer. “I think there’s an insecurity there.”
Bannon and Priebus insist they’re close, and the chief strategist was reportedly angry that the website he ran — Breitbart News — published an article claiming the “nationalist right” was aiming to take down the chief of staff.
“Reince is doing a great job,” Bannon told Politico by text.
“Reince is doing an amazing job,” Bannon told The Hill by phone. “We are executing on President Trump’s agenda in record time. That’s because Reince is getting the job done.”
Two longtime Trump confidants, GOP strategist Roger Stone and NewsMax chief executive Christopher Ruddy, have called for the chief of staff’s firing, although Ruddy backed off after Priebus promised improvement.
But Stone hasn’t stood down, and the longtime political trickster called to mind his October promise that Wikileaks would reveal damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
“I had this quaint idea that the chief of staff would know what he was doing,” Stone told Politico. “There will be more revelations about things he’s done in this job that don’t serve the president well. I promise you there will be more revelations.”
Priebus denied reports in December that Russia had hacked the Republican National Committee’s email system, as intelligence officials believe the nation did to the Democratic National Committee.
The New York Times reported that intelligence agencies concluded with “high confidence” that Russians hacked into both parties’ internal communications but released only information stolen from the DNC.
One person with direct knowledge told ABC News there’s no doubt that senior GOP officials were hacked, but there’s no evidence the RNC, which Priebus led at the time, was seriously compromised.